Chantal: Our special guest today is Chris Stevenson. He is the owner of Stevenson Fitness, which is a facility that consistently posts NPS scores above 90. So I asked him to come in and share a few of their secrets. Specifically, Chris tells us about the Three Stages of their 90 Day On-Boarding Program. And he gives us some great insights on how to improve your Net Promoter Score.
In 2003, Chris Stevenson opened Stevenson Fitness. It was a 2,000 square foot gym that specialized in private training. In 2010, they grew into a 7,500 square foot, full service health club. And now, in 2017, they help more than 2,000 members achieved their fitness goals
Chantal: Chris, welcome along to the show.
Chris: Hey, thanks for having me. I’m excited to be here.
Chantal: We are thrilled to have you on. I know you are extremely busy. You run your own gym plus you do presenting. You have a lot on your plate, do you want to share with us any apps or systems or rituals that you use to stay focused and to stay on top of your work load?
Chris: I’d be happy to. I think it’s important to be successful, you have to be focused. And I think there is two groups of people. There’s people whose lives run them. And there’s people who run their lives. And you want to be in the latter and to do that, it takes systems and rituals and a regimen and apps and tools are helpful for that.
So, what I will tell you is the first thing and foremost is you have to take care of your own health and wellness. And I think that’s really important. You got to walk the walk. You got to lead by example. And if this is the business you’re in, you got to take care of yourself and then on top of that, you know, if you take care of yourself, if you’re eating right and you make sure you get your own workouts then you’re going to feel better. You’re going to be more focused. You’re going to have more energy and you’re going to perform at a higher level. So I think as fitness business professionals, they get busy and pulled in many directions. You got to be careful. You got to make sure you that you prioritize your own health and wellness. So for me, I block time in my calendar that is dedicated to my workouts and I’m able to maintain that schedule most of the time. When I can’t, I have what I call a default workout that I’ve written. So it’s an easy 8-10 minute, no-required-equipment workout that I can do anywhere at anytime. But you know, with my own workouts, like I said, in my calendar I block time for it then I go into Excel and I create a 4-week program because I’m not going to block that time and not have a plan. So I write my workouts for 4 weeks at a time. I go in, once I write in my Excel, I transfer it to my iPhone, open it up in the Numbers App and then I can literally just follow along my phone logs, weights logs, reps, so using that sort of technology just to stay up my own workout because, again, if you don’t take care of your health, you shouldn’t be in the health and fitness business and you got to lead by example and you got to feel great.
Then a flip side is, you’re on the business side. Like you’ve mentioned before, between consulting and presenting and I’m still a full-time operator of my own health club, the business, like I said with your life, either you run your business or your business runs you. So, I make sure to always run my business. And that starts by the night before, right? So the night before, I look at what I’ve got the next day. And I look at my calendar, what appointments do I have? What commitments do I have? And then I go over to my app and the app I use is called Anydo and it is just a simple, free to-do app. And I look at the tasks that are on there and then I prioritize those. And I always pick one or two. I don’t overload. I don’t expect to accomplish a dozen things but I look for one or two things that would have high leverage return on it. And I pick those things, I put it on my calendar. So, I literally go through there and every day is planned the night before I look. And I make sure that I’m still on track; make any adjustments that are necessary; get those one or two things that must have and done. And remember part of that calendar also has the workout that I’ve already planned to do.
I make sure that I check email only three times a day. I check it once in the morning, once at noon and then once in the evening. Because again, your email can dominate you. I turn off all push alerts so that I stay focused. And I also always, I read a lot but I always make sure that I block at least 15 minutes of reading time and it’s generally in the morning. So I try to do more than that but at a minimum. I never lose that habit. So everyday, I’m reading something. So, that’s sort of the health part. As the business part, but I’ll tell you, I have this kind-of neat combo that I’d really like to share with people. At the end of every night, I grab my foam roller because I’m a former power ranger and I’m beat up, so I need the foam roller and take care of myself. You laugh but it’s true.
Chantal: Yes! I laugh because I understand.
Chris: We know that the foam roller, what a powerful tool it is. But what I’ll do is, I downloaded the TedTalk App, so I get my TedTalk App and I have on foam roller and I do my 8-10 minutes, sort of full body, full roller routine while watching a TedTalk. And on the app, there’s a really cool thing word that says “surprise me”. So you can select 5 or 10 minutes and then it will give you a random Tedtalk. So, I’ll watch the TedTalk every single day while I do my foam roller routine to end every day. And you know, sometimes it’s business, sometimes it’s health, sometimes it’s art. It doesn’t matter. It’s just something interesting that I learned. So, that’s sort of my end of the day ritual that even makes me tired for bed. It’s just kind of a great way to end the day learning and recovering using the foam roller and that’s sort of how I end my days.
Chantal: You know I think Chris that suggestion that you’ve made about the listening to a TedTalk is great, actually a few of our guests have mentioned the TedTalks because I think you can view them either on video, or as a podcast, the fact that there are those kind of 10 minute short hits of information is a really good way to, you know, as you say, to make the most of your time, to be efficient with the time that you have, you know you’ve got a foam roller because it’s a part of your routine, but why not make that time effective.
And the other thing that I really liked about what you said and I must admit I wish I could do this. I don’t think I have the control to do this: checking your emails just three times a day. I absolutely admire that you do that and I think that to be strict enough on yourself that you can just say, right, here’s three opportunities, turn off your notifications is actually a really good role model especially when you’ve got other people within the business. If you can be very specific and very set in the times that you’re checking it, then, obviously you can be in a lot of more control of what happens in your day. So thank you so much for sharing those with us.
Chris: My pleasure.
Chantal: Now Chris, during your bio, I talked briefly about membership retention and that’s a big part of your business. Am I correct in saying that you’ve got retention rates that are consistently more than 70%, is that correct?
Chris: That is correct
Chantal: Do you want to start by sharing with us what formula you use to calculate retention?
Chris: So, we use a very simple formula. So, at the end of the month, all of the cancels and freezes, we take that number and we divide it by the number of memberships we have at the beginning of the month. And what that gives us is our attrition rate for that month. So what you do with that number is, let’s say you want to do all of 2016, you do that for every month in 2016 and then you add the attrition rate for each month together and then subtract that number from a hundred. And then that will give you your retention rate.
Chantal: And do you know how that compares to the industry average?
Chris: Well, in doing research on top of this stuff, I did research in, actually, according to IHRSA, the current retention rate average in the industry is 72.4%, which was pretty impressive. Now that’s globally. We also worked with the fairly large independent club network in the States and they estimated at 61%. So that’s in the US, so maybe you’re just better worldwide than we are in the US. I don’t know.
Chantal: Lifting the average, you think?
Chris: Right. I think my guess is probably it’s somewhere in between there. So, my guess is the real overall club average is probably somewhere in between 60% and 70%.
Chantal: Yeah. I think you’re probably right there. Tell me this, with your rates of being consistently over 70%, what are those characteristics or what are the things that you do at Stevenson Fitness in order to achieve that consistently high result?
Chris: Well, one thing we do is I think most fitness business operators should understand or do understand the importance of retention especially in modern times. I mean, you look on every street corner, there’s a new studio; there’s a new CrossFit; there’s a bootcamp; there’s a full service gym; there’s a low price gym. Everything you can imagine is out there right now. And in our industry is growing like crazy. The problem is, the amount of users isn’t necessarily growing at the same rate as the suppliers. So when you look at people now have so many choices, that retention is so essential. And if you’re able to, you know, even increase your retention by 1%, it has a massive impact on your bottom line. Not to mention the fact that, you know, the cost of acquiring a new customer is so much more than keeping a current customer.
So, I don’t know, you know retention, retention, retention is really key for survival in our industry. But what we believe and what we practice and its part of our culture at Stevenson Fitness is that creating a superior member experience through diverse member engagement.
So, I presented on this at ton of different events but that diversified member engagement, it is really what’s key. And what I mean by that is, we have five areas that we focus on at Stevenson Fitness. So one area of member engagement is an on-boarding program. So in the first 90 days of your membership, we are going to hold your hand. There’s a series of emails, phone calls, follow-ups, check-ins, a bunch of different processes that we have in place to make sure that we’re touching base with you a lot through that first 90 days.
And also with that, we have a 90-day reward program. Because we know again, if you’re active in that first 90 days, if we’re engaging with you and you’re using the facility, the duration that your membership is going to be much much longer. So we literally, actually end up being a part of our sales process. Where we’re signing up, you know we say, most gyms just wanted you to sign up and that they’re not really concerned if you show up. Us, not only are we concerned, we want you to show up we’re going to reward you for it. So if people come 2x a week in the first month, they get a reward, the 2nd month and the 3rd month. So we have a really strong engaging on-boarding process for all new members. Because they need their hands held in order to stick with the program and get results.
The second way we engage is we actually look for changes and then we’ll reach out to people. So we track people’s check-ins and usage. And the minute it drops off, we engage with you. So, Chantal if you are coming at a regular basis, then all of a sudden, a week and a half goes by and you’re not there, we get alerted, then all of a sudden you get an email that says, “Hey, we missed you. Where have you been? What can we do to get you back in the gym?” And that creates another level of engagement. People know that we care and we want them there. And by the way, we do. We are all in this business to help people. We are not in the business to have people buy memberships and not use them, show up and get healthy. So, that’s another way. And then the third way is getting them involved in programming. So, with that programming it could be personal training, it could be group exercise, small group training. But the more they get involved… all data shows that somebody participates in group exercise is retained for a longer period of time. Same thing for personal training and small group training
And also, when they participate in programming, they use the gym more frequently. So, studies will show that if you are present in the gym as a group you are at a gym 3-4 days a week, as opposed to somebody who walks on the treadmill and does some dumbbell curls, you may only come once or twice. So the third thing was to get them involved in programming. Four, we engage them in social media. We do that in two ways. One, as a business page. And we try to put out interesting content, we get people to like, share, to engage and we always on social media it’s social, so you always want to make sure that you respond to people that engage with you.
But we also have internal programs that encourage our staff to engage with members as well. So they are building individual relationships with staff members as well as the business as a whole. Now, obviously, you have to monitor that because you see some pretty crazy stuff on Facebook, we have some pretty good culture, so that hasn’t been a problem but we actually put systems into place, where we have group exercises instructors make sure they are taking at least once a month, a picture of their classmates, tagging them. Showing how much fun we had, trainers the same thing. And then finally, the 5th way we focus on that member engagement are through events. And I’ll divide events into two categories. And that is how we look at it. One set of events, community involvement and charity. People want to do good things. So, when you can be the hub for good things, people love to be involved in that. So, as an example, our gym at Oak park, California, suburb of Los Angeles, we host the Red Cross Blood Drives twice a year. So in our community, we are the hub, where everybody knows, we’re going to go two times a year and we’re going to donate blood. And then we show the results. We always exceed goal. And people love being a part of that. So, they are engaged in ways that has nothing to do with gym or fitness, but has something do with doing something good to the community. And we are like, clean up Oakpark and we’ll do different fundraisers, and different charities. And like I said, we want to be the hub to get people involved with doing great things. Then the other half of the events has nothing to do with charity and that is where things are just fun.
So, we host the happy hour, a holiday party, an anniversary party every year. So, we get people to come. They are not working out. They get to dress up. Look good for each other. They see each other now and they go, “Oh my gosh, I never seen you with clothes on.” But you know what they meant, it is outside of obviously, gym clothes. But kind of a funny anecdote is we have a competitor across the street, he had this huge wellness event and very people showed up and then he came over for our anniversary party, and it was packed.
And finally, we’ve become friends and colleagues since, but he said, “How do you get people to show up for stuff?” I said Listen, they come to you everyday for body fat, and assessments and this and that, and why would they come at an additional time for that? Host a party man. We did nothing healthy that day at all. The food was not healthy. It was a taco cart. We didn’t do anything healthy. We just created social environment for everyone to have fun. So when you have those different ways that you diversely engage your members, that’s when you start to build loyalty because it is not just somebody is coming in to use the treadmill. What you want is somebody who comes and uses the treadmill but also knows they are coming twice a year to donate blood. Lots of them come to you party and work with a trainer. Now, they are engaging with you in four different ways. And that creates a lot more loyalty. Or the woman who loves your childcare program. We have this childcare program where we’ll do special events like mommy-me thing. They love childcare, they also love group exercise and they also love a small group training program and they are always on Facebook engaging with your social media and with your social page. So again, the more diverse ways that people can get involved and engaged, the more likely they are to stay with you. Because you mean more to them than just a treadmill. It it’s just the treadmill, as soon as someone down the street opens with a new treadmill, and that’s lower priced than you, they’re gone. So diversify your engagements.
Chantal: I was just going to say that’s a really great example of how important it is to have multiple touch points with your customer base and I want to rewind back to when you talked about that rewards program that you implemented for new members in that 90-day onboarding period. Can you go into a little bit of detail and share with us what type of rewards or how that rewards system actually works and the level of reward that you are actually giving back to the members.
Chris: Great, so here is what we do. If you come eight times in your first month, which by the way gives us an excuse to call you, we call half way through the month and our member service rep will call you and say, “Hey, just so you know, you’ve been here six times, let’s get those last two, so you can get your reward.” So if you came eight times in that first month, we give you your next month for free.
Which by the way, is also a perk, because we have an enrollment fee, so when people sign up and say, “Hey, can you wave the enrollment?” We’re basically saying, “No, but you can.” If you come eight times in that first month, then your next month will be free and that basically offsets the enrollment. And you get healthier when using the gym.
And the second month, what we do is we do a gift card to our proshop. So it is good for snacks, water, Gatorades, merchandise, anything that you can purchase at the gym. Because we want them to get into some gear. We want to have them buy some product. And then the third month, we give them two complimentary one-on-one personal training sessions for coming for eight times. So, eight months on the first month, you get a month for free. Eight times the second month, it is a gift card to the proshop. And eight times on the third month, you get two complimentary training sessions.
Chantal: Thank you so much for sharing that with us. There are some great ideas there. One of the reasons that I wanted to get you on today was to talk specifically around Net Promoter Score. Now, obviously most of our listeners will be familiar with it. But if there is anyone that is not, can you start off by explaining what the Net Promoter Score is and how it is actually calculated?
Chris: You got it. So, the Net Promoter Score, or you’ll hear people call it NPS is basically one question. It’s on a scale from 0-10. How likely is it that you would recommend this brand to a friend or colleague? And then underneath that, so that is simply 0-10. And then there is a space for comments. So, somebody gives you a 9 or a 10 and the way you calculate it is, let me explain this first. 9’s and 10’s are what you considered promoters. Those are the people who love you. Who rave about you on Facebook. They are your tribe. They are the people that refer you people to you all the time, that will follow you anywhere, and that will actually totally buy in to your culture. Those 9’s and 10’s are promoters.
Then passives are people who gives you 7’s or an 8’s. Now, those are people who are satisfied but they are not super loyal or super passionate about what you do. If somebody is lower priced, newer or shinier opens up down the street, there is a chance that you can lose them to them. They may go, they may not. Those are your passives.
And then, finally 0-6 are what we call detractors. And those are people that would rather be having a double root canal than spending time with you but for some reason they still go to your facility but they just don’t like you. So that is how we kind of relate to people and then the way you actually calculate the score is you take your percentage of promoters and you subtract your percentage of detractors. And that is how you get the score.
So a few years ago, IHRSA I believe was the first global Net Promoter Score and I believe the numbers are correct but it is due to the company TRP. The Retention People and they did the U.K. first and the average score is 22. And then they did North America and the average score was 44, and then we, at that time had scored a 77. And that is when they reached out and said, “Hey, do you have a few minutes to talk about whatever you do to make people so happy?” And I said, “I guess so.” That is actually when I started presenting and speaking, which is kind of neat. But at this point, we hover around 90.
Chantal: Wow, that is phenomenal Chris. So, with that in mind, and I know that you’ve already talked us through the fantastic on boarding process and some the initiatives that you have within the business, when it comes to membership retention, are there any other areas that you could share with us or initiatives that you have in place to ensure that you are maintaining that NPS score and you delivering the best member experience possible.
Chris: Sure, it is all about the culture. First off, I mentioned before, our core purpose as a company is empowering people to live healthier lives. And our mission statement is empowering people to live healthier lives.
And our mission statement is at Stevenson Fitness everyone leaves feeling better than when they arrived. So, between those two, we flood our company with that culture, if you buy into it and believe you are in. If you don’t, you’re out. And if we live by that, especially the mission statement, if we live by, everybody leaves feeling better than when they arrived, we know people are going to keep coming. And that they are going to refer people. And then they are going to be empowered to live a healthier life. So, we really infuse that culture into our staff. And on top of that, then it comes down to as I said, staff. It is all about who you bring on board. Because we can’t do this by ourselves.
So, it is all about who you hire. So, we are always making sure that we have the best team possible. So, we prospect and we recruit a lot. You go to dinner and you like your waiter and you think they are outstanding. We recruit them. And there is a salesperson at a store. Does anybody go to stores or you just shop online? If you go to a store, you meet the salesperson that you think is fantastic, we recruit all the time, members who are outstanding, who love us, who are promoters. So, we are always out there looking for the right people. Because without the right people, it doesn’t matter what processes or systems you have, they’ll never be effective.
So, you want those right people. Once you get the right people, and we hire them, then it is all about on-boarding. And when we on-board to create a great experience, to teach people how to engage with members and implement all the systems and processes we use, we literally start with nothing but culture and customer service training.
So, it doesn’t matter if you are a group exercise instructor or if you are a personal trainer. We just actually started an on-boarding process with two-member service reps which basically what we call our sales department and we just got through the first week with them and literally we’ve done nothing with sales at all. It is all about the story of why we do what we do. How the Net Promoter Score is important in our mission, our vision and our values, and customer service, and we get detailed with it. My staff maybe gets of tired of me walking up to the front. Eyes and teeth, eyes and teeth, posture, eyes and teeth. But you know you wear your nametag on your right. So when you shake hands people can see your name tags. I mean, every little detail about how you interact properly with members, we focus on that on the on-boarding process.
So we’ll do the technical stuff as well because you have to know that. But you hire what you can’t teach. Get people that are totally involved in your culture and then, I think this is where people fall short sometimes, let’s say you get people up to speed at how to treat people right, customer service, luxury language, member engagement, anticipating needs, all those awesome things. And you do this great on-boarding but if you don’t practice skills, those skills are lost. So, after we on-board it, you have to have a really good consistent leadership program. You’re face to face with people all the time, you’re role playing constantly. We pick different themes and we review those weekly that are all revolving around customer service, member engagement, how we treat people. So, it is finding the right people, hiring the right people, on boarding with all the skills they need to deliver what your expectations are and then consistently leading and holding them accountable to their behaviours.
Chantal: I’m going to give everyone a really quick tip in regards to what you just mentioned there Chris and that is how important it is to have those little things with connecting with people like you and like what you said, “Eyes and teeth.” Making all that you’ve got that connection with people and we did an interview with Michelle Bowden back in December of last year Chris, I’m not sure if you have caught it. But if anyone didn’t catch it, that is a really good conversation that I had with Michelle, where she gets quite specific on what you can do to connect with people. So, how you can use presentation and communication skills to really connect with your clients and your members. So, if anyone missed that show, jump back and check it out, it was Show 83 with Michelle Bowden and it is exactly Chris what you are talking about now.
What you’ve heard today is just a snippet of my entire interview of Chris. So I’m going to give you part two of that interview in a few week’s time, when we talk about responding to member’s feedback and generating revenue from ancillary services.
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